How to Permanently Remove Grubs from Your Lawn

Do you have brown, patchy grass?

If that's the case, grubs might be to blame.

An infestation of grubs can kill your grass if you don't take care of it. You will not be subjected to these nuisances indefinitely.

For homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, Smith's Pest Management offers grub control services.

In this article, we will discuss the best methods we've found for eliminating grubs from your yard, garden, flower beds, and outdoor containers. You can also use these methods to get rid of fleas and chiggers in your yard.

When and how do grubs cause damage to lawns?

grub lifecycle

Insects like Japanese beetles, June beetles, and European chafers all have larvae known as grubs.

The bodies of these pests are mushy and white, and they have a pair of legs right next to their tiny little heads. They form a C when startled.

During the colder months, grubs hibernate, but once the weather warms up, they become active again. Grubs, which are most active in the spring and early summer, cause significant damage to grass and other plants by feeding on their roots.

Adult beetles, such as those that feed on lawn grubs, emerge from the ground to find a mate and start a new generation. The lifespan of an adult beetle is between one and three years.

In July and August, adult beetles lay their eggs near their feeding sites, spawning grubs that tunnel into the soil and feed on the grass roots.

Here's some good news: grubs can be managed with techniques like milky spore disease, which we'll talk about more later in the post.

Grub Damage: 6 Telltale Signs

grub damage to lawn

If you are unsure as to whether or not grubs exist in your yard,

If you want to know for sure if you have grub damage, here are some telltale signs:

  1. Dying grass As grubs eat their way through turfgrass's roots, the grass becomes mushy and yellow. It can be rolled back like a carpet if you pull on it.
  2. Other species of pests are present. Pests like skunks, raccoons, and moles will dig up your lawn in search of grubs, which they eat with relish. Damage like this can be just as difficult and expensive to fix as grub damage.
  3. There are a lot more bugs flying around. You may have a grub problem if you see a lot of moths or beetles flying around at ground level in your grass.
  4. The onset of a dry spell Grubs could be the cause of your yard's "drought" appearance, even if you've been watering it regularly. As misleading as it may be, despite appearances, grub damage cannot be remedied by watering.
  5. Grass with brown spots It will turn brown and patchy before the grass turns yellow and pulls up. Instances of this damage will crop up in various places across the lawn.
  6. When white grubs are present, Cut a square foot of turf between 2 and 4 inches deep using a spade. Lift the square and look at the ground underneath it. Even if you haven't noticed any damage to your lawn, a grub infestation is a certainty if you see the little critters.

Damage from grubs can be difficult to spot because it often looks like other forms of damage, such as drought.

But if you keep an eye out for these six signs, you can stop grub damage in its tracks.

Natural Remedies for Controlling Grubs in Your Yard

grub treatment options beneficial nematodes

Getting rid of grubs in your yard without using toxic pesticides is probably something you're interested in learning more about.

Optionality exists, which is good news.

Some strategies we suggest are as follows:

One, let the bugs' natural enemies feast on the grubs.

Insects like grubs have many natural enemies. Several predators can cause extensive damage to your yard, but others won't.

To give just a few examples, birds like chickadees, blue jays, and robins absolutely adore grubs and will happily snack on them all day long if given the chance. Chickens in the yard can forage for grubs and other pests as well.

Make your lawn a welcoming place for birds to roost and feed in order to use them as a natural grub control method.

Set up bird-friendly features like feeders, birdbaths, and nesting boxes all over your lawn. This will entice birds that will be good for your yard by reducing the number of grubs.

Those who have children or pets at home will appreciate how simple and non-toxic it is.

Vegetable gardens and potted plants are vulnerable to bird damage.  

Second, control the amount of moisture in the air.

Slugs and grubs can't make it without a steady supply of water. Therefore, an artificial drought is a simple method to reduce their numbers.

Stop watering your lawn for a few weeks in the middle of July if it can survive a dry spell and bounce back once you start watering again. This will eliminate the grub population by destroying the eggs and juveniles.

Easy and safe to use  

Negatives: Your lawn will die if you let it go without watering for too long, and this strategy will only work if your garden isn't getting any moisture from the rain or other natural sources.  

Incorporate milky spore into your formula.

The larval stage of Japanese beetles is particularly susceptible to a bacterial disease known as milky spore. As a natural, eco-friendly alternative, milky spore is highly effective at reducing white grub populations.

You can get milky spore from any home and garden store and spread it around your yard with a cheap milky spore dispenser.

Apply milky spore a few times a year for two to three years for the best results. Following completion of the treatment plan, the milky spore will serve as a biological control for 15–20 years.

In order to successfully employ milky spore, it is necessary to pay close attention to a wide range of environmental factors, such as temperature, moisture, soil structure, pH, and soil type.

As the spores' development time increases with temperature, soil temperature becomes an increasingly important factor. Soil temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for spore development.

Also, keep in mind that the presence of grubs in the soil is necessary for the spread of milky spore. Increasing the number of grubs will hasten the spread of the milky spore.

Advantages: low cost and simple implementation  

Cons: It can take 2-3 years for spores to build up to become effective pest control; milky spore only kills Japanese beetle grubs; product variability, soil temperature and conditions, and grub resistance all affect milky spore disease's efficacy.

4. Apply neem oil or Azadirachtin

Neem oil contains the active ingredient azadirachtin. Many people mistakenly believe that neem oil and Azadirachtin are the same thing; however, neem oil contains only trace amounts of Azadirachtin.

As a result, Azadirachtin is commonly purchased in concentrated form for use on lawns. One study found that five times the recommended rate of Azadirachtin was effective in killing Japanese beetles on Kentucky bluegrass.

Neem oil is a natural alternative for pest management. If you want to stop grubs from eating, growing, and reproducing, use pure neem oil. If you follow the instructions on the bottle, you can dilute neem oil with water and spray it on the affected areas.

Azadirachtin is "relatively non-toxic" (meaning it presents low toxicity to biocontrol agents, predators, and parasitoids) and neem oil is "non-toxic," meaning it won't harm people or non-target organisms, and both are inexpensive.   

Cons: both neem oil and Azadirachtin need to be reapplied frequently; Azadirachtin is effective at killing Japanese beetle larvae but has no effect on adult beetles or on their ability to lay eggs.  

5. Release helpful nematodes

As a type of tiny parasitic worm, nematodes can be used to effectively combat grubs and other common garden pests.

Beneficial nematodes are a common, pet-friendly alternative to the use of milky spore disease for grub control. Beneficial nematodes can be found at any garden or hardware store.

Apply the nematodes to your yard as soon as possible after purchase (as per the nematode package's instructions).

They are most effective when applied in the early morning or late afternoon, and should not be placed in direct sunlight.

In order to maintain a healthy population of nematodes, it is recommended to apply a new batch once or twice yearly for three years after the initial application.

Advantages: It has potential, and it's a permanent fix.  

Negatives: Ground-controlling nematodes need to be alive and shipped refrigerated; once opened, nematodes need to be used right away; the application sprayer needs to be very clean and free of any other chemical residues from previous applications; if the lawn has been treated with insecticide in the past year, there's a risk that the nematodes won't be effective. Nematodes take a long time to become established, so there is a good chance that residual insecticide could harm or kill them.

Recipe #6: Borax Grub Killer

The grubs can be killed with borax, which is a common cleaning product.

However, it's important to keep in mind that borax contains boron, which, when left to accumulate in the soil, can be fatal to your lawn. Therefore, this strategy should be employed infrequently, if at all.

Put one tablespoon of borax into a spray bottle full of warm water. Liberally spray the area where grubs have been spotted.

Advantages: Good for short-term use  

When used excessively or in delicate areas like flowerbeds or vegetable gardens, Borax grub killer can cause irreparable harm to the plants.  

Seven, aerate and dethatch your grass.

Lawns that have been dethatched and aerated are less enticing to grubs. Grubs thrive in dense, compact soil, so removing thatch and aerating the lawn makes the lawn less inviting for the pests.

Furthermore, these techniques facilitate the spread of milky spore disease, nematodes, and other natural solutions to the grubs below the lawn's surface, where they can do the most damage and kill them quickly.  

Pros: It's harmless, efficient, and good for the grass.

Slow and tedious Failed to eliminate grubs  

Traditional Methods of Controlling Grubs

Here's some good news: there's an easy way to get rid of grubs.

Carbaryl and trichlorfon are the two main chemicals used to control lawn grub populations.

When large numbers of grubs are present in the autumn or early spring (before May), either method is an effective solution.

There is evidence that these compounds, when applied in September, can kill 20-80% of grubs and, when applied in late October, can kill 20-55% of grubs.

Detailed explanations of each are provided below.


Carbaryl is an effective grub killer because it is a short-lived carbamate compound. The European chafer grub, for example, is resistant to trichlorfon, but new evidence suggests that carbaryl may be slightly more effective at killing grubs.

Ten to fourteen days after application, carbaryl starts killing grubs. Carbaryl has been shown to be toxic to honeybees and other species of bees; as a result, its use should be strictly regulated to professional pest control services.


Organophosphate trichlorfon begins killing grubs in one to three days. After 7-10 days, the chemical is no longer effective. Trichlorfon, like carbaryl, is most effective when applied in the spring or the fall.

What About Cancer-Preventing Drugs?

Carbaryl and trichlorfon are two insecticides commonly used to control grub populations. But, they are most effective when used in tandem with preventative measures.

Imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, and clothianidin-containing products, for example, can kill 75-100% of lawn grubs if applied in June or July and watered with at least 0. Immediately Irrigate With 5"

When it comes to getting rid of grubs in your lawn, how do the pros do it?

grub control expert

If you have grubs in your lawn, you should think about hiring our experts to help.

Here's what to expect from our method:

Primary Diagnosis

Our grub treatment program begins with a thorough inspection of your property. We will inspect your property, dig up some of the bedding areas, and sort through the soil to confirm the presence of grubs and identify the species.

Any animal damage to the lawn, such as that from raccoons or skunks, is also thoroughly inspected for signs of grub infestation.

Modality 2: Therapy

Once we've confirmed that grubs are present, we can decide how to best eliminate them. Potential treatments include a liquid systemic insect product, milky spore fungus, and beneficial nematodes.

We guarantee that you will receive the most effective treatment for lawn grubs possible, regardless of which method we suggest.

To ensure the product is properly absorbed into the soil, we ask that you refrain from using the lawn during and after the treatment.

In an effort to speed things up, we'll be using your irrigation system for roughly 20 minutes. If the grass has dried, the area can be used as usual.

Third, Treatment-Related Follow-Up

In the next section, we'll discuss the best ways to continue treating for grubs throughout their lifespan. Since adults of the Japanese beetle return each year to lay eggs, we advise that you give your home a once-over every year.

A Guide to Treating Lawn Grubs

grub questions FAQs

When should you spray for grubs?

There are two times of year, early spring and late summer, when you should apply grub control agents to your lawn: when you see signs of increased grub activity.

However, before the grubs hatch in July, preventative treatments should be applied in the months of June and July.

Two: Will Grass Grow Back If Grubs Are Gone?

There will be a need to reseed areas of lawn where grubs have caused death.

Until the grass is at least two to three inches tall, it should be given a light watering, overseeded with a high-quality turfgrass mixture, and kept free of pets and children.

How do I distinguish between fungus and grubs?

Warmer temperatures bring out the worst in grub damage. Conversely, when temperatures are unstable, fungal damage is more likely to occur.

Grab a patch of sick grass and pull on it gently to see if you can feel any grubs or mold. Because fungi can't kill roots, grub damage is more likely if the roots are gone.

4.Will grubs disappear on their own or die off during the winter?

Regrettably, no

By late summer, grubs have hatched and begun to eat. When fall arrives, the grubs emerge from their eggs and continue growing until midwinter, when they burrow deeper into the soil to avoid the cold.

Is Your San Francisco Bay Area Lawn Being Overrun By Grubs? Assisting Is What We Do Best

Lawns are especially vulnerable to grub damage. You can finally do something about those brown, dead spots!

Smith's Pest Management has the experience necessary to eradicate grubs from Bay Area lawns, gardens, and flower beds.

We will eradicate the grubs and bring back the lush greenery of your yard using both conventional and environmentally friendly methods.

In order to arrange for a pest control inspection or to receive a no-obligation price quote, please get in touch with us today.

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